What makes Kobe Bryant such a unique talent is his ability to single handedly set the tone for an entire game. Tonight, in the D, KB did just that. Bryant’s aggressive first half attack yielded 24 points and helped to give the Lake Show an insurmountable 14-point lead at the half.
Don’t be fooled by the final tally. The Lakers’ bench played far too loose in the fourth allowing Detroit to go on a 14-0 run that put this game in momentary peril. But after the dust settled, the Laker starters were able to knock off early, resting for the entire final frame.
Don’t look now, but Bryant is quietly shifting into Mamba Mode. Kobe’s 33 points, in just 31 minutes of PT and on 11 of 20 shooting was good enough for his fourth game of 30+ in his last five played. Don’t forget those 9 boards and 4 dimes either. Kobe did more work in three quarters than any Piston did for the entire game.
Most important of all was that the Laker bigs got just what the doctor ordered. Both Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were limited to a reasonable 32 minutes. Of course the minimal PT was still filled with maximal fantasy benefit as both bigs dropped double-doubles like a clumsy In-N-Out employee. Pau did his thing at 25 and 12, while LO was good for 15 and 14.
The defense looked sharp as well. Minus the bench thinking they had the fourth off. The Lake Show has strung together solid defensive efforts in five of their last eight quarters played on this back-to-back. Just how much of that can be attributed to the turmoil infested Pistons is debatable.
Not to pile on the Motor City. Until the last few years it was mission impossible for the Lakers to get wins in the Palace. But right about now, it’s looking more depressing than Greg Oden’s career path. Perhaps a symbol of this once proud franchise, it took a 20-point lead for Tracy McGrady to get into the game. T-Mac scored just 3 points in 15 minutes. Oh how the mighty have fallen.
The Lakers make their final stop on this trip in Minnesota Friday where a confident bunch of T-Wolves await. Given the way the Lakers stunk it up when these two met in Staples recently you can bet a rested Kobe Bryant will be eager to set the tone early again. A road sweep would greatly help to get Lady Momentum back on good terms with Phil Jackson’s men. More immediately, a replication of what we saw in the Palace performed in the Target Center would be a significant sign of the killer instinct resurfacing in November.